Thursday, October 17, 2013

Heath & Paisley White

Who would have expected a national media platform like ESPN to feature such a powerful pro-life story?  It’s a very well produced story about the time when Heath White chased perfection. E:60′s Tom Rinaldi tells the story of a how the birth of a girl with Down Syndrome led to the re-birth of a man who thought he had everything, until he discovered the joy of pushing Paisley.  Watch the 15 minute video, and share it – it’s a powerful story that is worth your time:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Why Pray If God Already Knows What You Need?

If God knows what we need, why bother praying? Because prayer is not like sending an order form to a supplier. Prayer develops an intimate personal relationship with an abundantly loving God, who also happens to know us deeply. His knowledge of us should encourage us toward confident and focused prayer. A child may feel an immediate need for candy but a parent considers the child's long-term needs. Stretch that parent's concern and perspective to an infinite dimension, and there you find God's loving care.

Prayer does not beg favors from a reluctant shopkeeper. Prayer develops the trust that says, "Father, you know best." Bring your requests confidently to God.

~Life Application Bible Commentary, Matthew

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hallowing God's Name

A thought on prayer for all of us today: One of the great mysteries of God is he has allowed the holiness of his name on this earth to be bound up with the character and conduct of his people. We are a reflection of the character of God in the eyes of a watching world. To pray "hallowed be your name" and really mean it - not just recite the words - is to say, "All right, God, I hereby give up sin as best I can with your help. I will live each moment of my day in such a way that you'll be able to sign your name to my day."

But the truth sometimes is, that when we come to that part of our prayer we really have to confess, "Father, all too often other names dominate my day. Some other important person or a spouse or a boss, a girlfriend or a boyfriend or other gods named money or health or achievement. So once more I come to you, Father, and I repent. And so I come to you Father, and renew the cry of my heart: hallowed be your name in my every moment today."

What would happen if every follower of Jesus prayed along those lines? How would that transform your family? Your work-place? Your school? Your marriage? Your friendships? Your church?

And what if we started praying that kind of prayer for those around us? What would it look like for a growing number of people in our community and across the world for God's name to be hallowed in their lives?

This prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13 is a GAME CHANGER. Begin praying today along these lines,

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And  lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (KJV)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Snare of Arguments

How often do you get into arguments? With your kids, your spouse, roommate, co-workers, or family members? Well here is a verse that could improve your relationships and maybe even save one....

"It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." ~Proverbs 20:3 (NIV)

Getting into petty arguments (strife) is an easy thing to do; Proverbs says that fools are quick to quarrel. Fools are often mentioned in the book of Proverbs and in many of those references it says that fools will come to ruin. In other words, their actions and ways don't achieve for them success. Being quick to enter into petty arguments (or even not-so-petty arguments) generally doesn't achieve for us success. So, is there a better way?

Well, consider the first part of Proverbs 20:3, "It is to one's honor to avoid strife...." Think about that statement for a moment. To whom do we normally give honor? Whom do we generally esteem? As you think through the list of people you have great respect for, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that they probably aren't known for getting into arguments. In some way they have learned to stay away from arguments and yet they are still successful - in fact, they have your respect.

To be clear, arguments and confrontation aren't necessarily the same thing. Sometimes we need to confront someone who is on the wrong path or who is acting in destructive ways (destructive to either themselves or to those around them or to the organization of which they are a part). Jesus made this point very clear in Matthew 18:15-17. There are times when it is right to - in fact God expects us to - confront people.

But generally our strife/arguments don't come from those kinds of situations. If you find yourself getting into arguments on a regular basis, you need to ask yourself, "Why do I do that?" Also, consider the end result of those arguments. Are they really achieving for you a better life? Are they really improving your relationships? Do they change the people with whom you argue? Once you start to drill down on these kinds of questions, you'll begin to see things more clearly, and when you see more clearly you'll be able to make better choices.

Think on these things and you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Avoiding the Regret of Quick Decisions

Do you ever rush into decisions? Ever act on impulse? Do you ever look back and regret your actions in those times?

Well here's a verse that gives us great wisdom that, if we heed it, will keep us from regret later on. Here's the verse:

"Desire without knowledge is not good -- how much more will hasty feet miss the way!" ~ Proverbs 19:2 (NIV)

Don't know about you, but this is a verse I need more than I'd care to admit. Get the facts before making decisions. Consider the implications of those facts and how the proposed decision will impact things as you move forward. Be patient in making decisions, even those that seem "small" at the time. Generally we think through big decisions (buying a house, who to marry, etc.). Sometimes the "small" decisions are the ones that cause us the most regret later on.

Should I return his phone call? Should I go to that party with them? Should I ignore a small injustice at work or school? Should I join that sorority/fraternity? Should I cut class and go with them? Should I turn in that "expense"?

Desire without knowledge (or thinking it through) is not good. When I'm careless in my decision making because I just want to "go and do" will generally put me on a path that I'll regret.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Extended Look at History Channel's Bible Series

Here is an extended look at a 10-part mini-series I'm looking forward to on The History Channel. It is set to air on March 3, 2013.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What to Do When the Sky is Falling

In Luke 21, Jesus predicts the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (v. 20) and he describes how difficult those days will be. He is trying to prepare his followers for the distress they will have to endure and he says in verse 34 something that jumped out at me which I think has application for us today in a broad sense. Have you ever experienced a season of life when you felt as if the sky were falling in on you? If not, do you think you ever will have that experience? Well, what Jesus said in Luke 21 may be helpful to you. Here is what he said,

"34 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34, 36 (NIV)

Verse 34 is an interesting verse. Here are some Greek word definitions (following the NIV text) that will help you understand more fully what Jesus is saying:
  • Be careful = to give attention, to give heed. The phrase is in the present tense and in the imperative mode which means that it is a call for a constant vigil
  • or (some translations render it "lest") = warding off something still dependent on the will
  • be weighed down = to weigh down, to depress
  • carousing (NIV84 has "dissipation") = literally headaches, drunken nausea. Signifies the distressing aftereffects of intoxication, hangovers. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translates this phrase, "so that your minds are not dulled from carousing" which is a good way of saying "hangovers" - which is actually in the HCSB footnote. The literal rendering of this Greek word in the NASB-NIV Parallel NT in Greek & English is "surfeiting" whose root word (surfeit) means: an excessive amount of something, its use in archaic times was of an illness caused or regarded as being caused by excessive eating or drinking
  • drunkenness = expressing the instrument causing the depression
  • anxieties = care, worry, anxiety, a feeling of apprehension or distress in view of possible danger or misfortune
  • of life = belonging to daily life, worldly, secular, everyday
Jesus knew that when these bad things began to happen that his followers may be tempted (because of the great pressure and the gloom of the season) to plunge themselves into drinking (or other forms of escape) which will dull their minds and render them ineffective during that time. Jesus is saying, "Don't let this happen. Steal your nerves. I'm telling you ahead of time so that you can be prepared for what is to come. Don't let it overcome you."

So often times when difficult seasons come, we look for a way to escape and to cope with the challenges. Unfortunately, the ways we often choose really don't help at all. Classic behaviors of escapism never help; they only add to the problem and the grief.

So how are Jesus' words helpful to us today. Well first of all, understand that all of us will face various crushing experiences in life. Read the words of the Apostle Peter:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. ~1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)
Or consider the words of Jesus himself:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33 (NIV)
So how can we endure these difficult seasons of life? Well, first, don't be naive in thinking that life is going to be a blissful cakewalk. Don't, as Peter said, be surprised when bad things happen. Don't be shocked when good people suffer and have bad things happen to them.

Second, if things are going well for you now, this is the perfect time to begin a consistent habit of prayer. Often times we wait to get serious about prayer until the challenges hit us. Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem 35+ years before it happened in order that they could begin to prepare for that day. Remember how he told them to prepare? He told them to be on the watch and to pray. In other words, don't get so caught up in the normal every day activities that you get caught by difficult times. If you do, those time will spring on you like a trap. So, Jesus says, pray that when those times come you will escape them. In other words, pray now so that when they come you won't be overtaken by them.

The key to being able to stand up under the pressure of difficult times is prayer. This reality should encourage and motivate all of us to begin seeking God and talking with him more often and with greater passion.

Strength to endure starts with our prayers ... today.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Should I Be My Child's Friend?

Our job as parents is not to be our children's friends, but to be the guiding influence in their lives. It doesn't matter if they "like" us now or even understand why we guide them in the directions we do. As we are faithful to our role in parenting them they will one day understand and be thankful for a strong, loving parent during the years where they lacked wisdom and judgment. Strong, loving parenting will save our children from many griefs in life.

Choosing to be their friend when they are growing up instead of being the loving, guiding authority in their lives does not ultimately bring about the kind of character they need to guide them throughout their life. There is plenty of time to be their friend when they are grown adults living on their own. Children need loving, firm guidance to shape them for a lifetime.

"Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death." ~Proverbs 19:18 (NIV)